Doing a visa run is something not common for most westerners. As an European, I have to be honest, I never heard about this “concept” before! And it was a bit complicated for me at the beginning to understand why every 3 months I had to exit the country with a 1 year visa! Anyway here in Thailand it is something really common for students/interns like me or people having a business visa or even some living in Thailand with only a tourist visa.
So last week end, I went to Aranyapathet (Thai side) in order to cross the Cambodian border in Poipet. When I looked first on Internet, I only read hardly reassuring stuff about poor and disabled people begging you for money, thefts and even harassment! Let me tell you that I didn’t really want to go! But actually I didn’t see any of these things and it all went really smooth: within 1 hour, we had our new 90 days stamp! Some steps might be a little tricky but if you know them, then it will be really easy. This is how we did from Bangkok.
1. Going to Aranyapathet
Aranyapathet is the closest city next to the border on the Thai side. From Bangkok, you can get there by:
- Bus from Mo Chit station (Northern one) for 160 Bahts, running really often;
- Train from Hua Lumphong Train station leaving at 5.50am and 1pm for 48 Bahts but only 3rd class, no A/C;
The problem with buses and trains is that actually they DON’T drop you at the border but at the Aranyapathet station located 6km away from the border. There, many people will try to sell you visa there but those are fake and you will have to buy a new one at the REAL border. In order to reach it, you will need to take a tuk-tuk from there for 50 Bahts (whole fee, not per person) or a songthaew for 15 Bahts per person.
- Minivan, from Victory Monument next to the “Century Movie Plaza” Mall (Exit 4 from the BTS) for 230 Bahts and taking between 3.30 and 5 hours;
- Taxi but I assume you don’t want to waste money in that!
The good point with minivan is that it goes directly to the border. It will most likely drop you next to a 7/11. Cross the road in the direction of a “market”. Go straight through it and turn right on the first road you’ll see following the toilets direction! (Sorry that’s my reference point! haha). Then, you will see on the left side, slightly opposite to the toilets, the Thai immigration office for leaving the country. It should look like that:
2. Crossing the borders
- Exiting Thailand: You first need to go through Thai immigration office in order to get your exit stamp for Thailand. Remember it is free! If you are asked for any fees, you are at a wrong place!
- Getting the cambodian visa: You can buy your visa online first or at the border for 800 Bahts or 20$ + 100 Bahts
- Entering Cambodia: Once you have bought your visa, it would be tempting to go back to the Thai side but no! You first need to get the cambodian entry stamp. So keep walking to Cambodia where you’ll find on your right the entry immigration office. Fill in the “arrival form”, queue and get your stamp! Easy!
- Exiting Cambodia: Now you are in Cambodia! Congratulations! Now you just need to get your exit stamp. This can take less time if you kindly ask a police man next to queue (meaning with 100-200 Bahts within your passport) to get it for you.
- Entering Thailand: You are almost done! Just go back to Thailand now. You will find the immigration office on your left side where you will just have to fill in the arrival card. Remember that with a tourist visa, you will only get 15 days in Thailand. If you want 30 days, you need to fly to Thailand.
When we did it was a Sunday and we got really lucky as it only took us 1 hour for doing all of this! Therefore, it will most likely you take you between 2 and 4 hours. Be careful therefore as the border closes at 5pm. That’s why you should take the first mini van at 6.30 am in Bangkok for being there before 12pm.
3. Going back to Bangkok
Many minivan companies are located straight after the thai immigration going to Bangkok, Pattaya, Kho Chang, Rayong… A return to Bangkok will cost you a bit more than the way to come (up to 300 Bahts), but always remember to ask for a reduction, you could save 25 Bahts (a cheese-ham sandwich in 7/11!).
Wish you a nice visa run!